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College Sports, Division III

Division III Committee on Infractions Releases Decision in California Institute of Technology Case

On July 12, 2012, the NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions (COI) released its decision regarding the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech) enforcement case. The COI found the institution lacked institutional control when it allowed 30 ineligible student-athletes in 12 sports to practice or compete during four academic years. The primary reason for student-athlete eligibility was due to Cal Tech’s academic policy that allows students to “shop” for courses during a three-week window of each academic quarter before finalizing their class schedules. Because the student-athletes were not actually registered in some or all of the courses they were attending, some were not enrolled on a full-time basis.

In its decision, the COI noted that the institution failed to have procedures in place to verify the full-time enrollment status or academic standing. In addition, the institution did not have a written process or procedure in place for performing certification duties and ensuring the eligibility of its student-athletes. While the athletic department expected the registrar to communicate this type of information to the department, no formal request was ever made. Further, the athletic department or sport coaches were not aware of when student-athletes were not in good academic standing.

The penalties implemented as a result of this decision include: (1) three years of probation; (2) a 2012-13 postseason ban for 13 sports; (3) a vacation of wins and records earned with the participation of ineligible student-athletes; (4) a financial penalty of $5,000; and (5) a ban on off-campus recruiting activities for the 2012-13 academic year.

In light of this enforcement case, the Michael L. Buckner Law Firm recommends institutions athletics compliance offices: (1) institute campus-wide compliance measures to increase communication and collaboration between the athletic department and departments that interface with athletics; (2) institute rules-education programs that focus on academic standing and eligibility requirements; and (3) review current internal athletic department policies and procedures regarding roster management and eligibility certification.

The public report from the COI can be found here.

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About Justin P. Sievert, Esquire

Bar Admissions (North Carolina, Florida and Tennessee) Practice Area (College Sports Law)

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